Whether you are a professional photographer or an avid enthusiast, there is no way you can get the best out of your shots by simply carrying your camera around. There are many tools and products you can use to increase the quality in your shots.
As you may know, our job involves taking photos… a lot of them. We go to events around the world multiple times a year, so we understand the portability issues, as well as what we must carry around to ensure good quality imagery.
In essence, this post is very much a list of what some of us at Mobile Geeks carry around in our camera bags. Take a look at these products and find out if you would benefit from some of these.
Before finding out what you should have in your camera bag, you need a camera bag
You need a camera bag. Carrying your camera alone can be good for casual photo walks, but if you want to get more serious it will be a hassle, and will likely result in less than ideal photographs.
Now, there is a plethora of bags out there! Countless camera bags of countless sizes, colors, shapes and quality. You will have to find what is best for you, but if I had to recommend you one it would be a Manfrotto VELOCE V backpack.
I actually like the Sling series more, but those happen to be too small to carry a regular-sized laptop (you can carry a tablet in them). The VELOCE V is a full-sized back pack and fits my 13-inch tablet perfectly (bigger ones fit too).
In addition, it has compartments for all my lenses, cameras and accessories. It even has straps outside for carrying a tripod. And Manfrotto is known for its quality among photographers. I have had this bag for well over a year and it looks just as good as the first day I tried it on.
Have a good tripod handy
If you have the right technique and tools, any tripod will do, but it’s always good to have a reliable tripod. Some of the cheaper tripods can be shaky, flimsy, unstable and moving parts tend to be an issue.
If you don’t want to spend much and need a fairly good tripod, I will recommend the Manfrotto MK394-H. I own one of these and it’s actually the one I carry around to events. It’s stable, portable and very well made. You can also use it for video pans, though a specialized head would work better.
I also love that it can take on positions other tripods usually can’t. You can open the legs wider and make for a lower position, for example.
If you don’t want to carry much, get yourself a monopod
Now, for this one I will agree that any monopod will do. Unless you want to get all into video and complicated shots, all you need is pretty much a stick. Monopods are great for giving you support while trying to take shots (we all know hands can get shaky). It can also do miracles for (slightly) long exposure shots. Won’t be as good as a tripod, but it will do the job.
Here’s a good one!
If you don’t want to carry even a monopod, try a bean bag!
The purpose of a tripod or monopod is simply to keep your camera stable. You don’t need a specific device for that! There are many places and surfaces where you can place your camera, and you can offer it stability by using a bean bag!
Adorama sells a very neat one for an awesome price. It’s slip resistant and comes with plastic pellets that are not affected by liquids. Simply place your bag on any surface and rest your camera on top of it. Problem solved!
Keep your lenses clean with a lens pen
Something a lot of photographers tend to ignore is how clean their lenses are. A dirty lens can ruin a photo (or at least affect it), so try to keep the dust and particles away with a good lens pen. You can use the brush to get most of the dirties out, or flip it around and use the other side for stains or smudges.
Talking about cleaning. Have you tried using a lens cloth? They work great at first, but then they start collecting dost, lint and anything else floating around your camera bag. It becomes a dirty mess. This is why I like buying PEC-PAD wipes. These are non-abrasive, clean, lint-less and disposable. They work perfectly and cost only about $13 for 100.
Look into the Black Rapid strap
When it comes to carrying your camera around, the original straps work, but they don’t offer top performance or comfort. I usually recommend Black Rapid straps for a better experience. These allow you to simply have the cameras laying on your side and out of the way, but they are easily accessible when that moment needs to be captured.
There are many other camera straps out there, but Black Rapid is a solid brand. I wouldn’t trust my expensive camera equipment hanging from a cheap, single strap at all times.
Put a bubble level on unused hot shoe
IF you are not using the hot shoe on your camera, you may as well make it worth something. Why not get yourself a bubble level? Some of these go right on your hot shoe, allowing you to always get the right angle on your photos. These are super cheap and very helpful.
Get yourself a shutter remote!
There is no reason not to buy a shutter remote. They are amazingly affordable and super helpful. And no, they are not only good for selfies. They are also great for certain shots in which exposure has to be elongated. It’s better to not even touch the camera, which is why these remotes can come in handy.
Sensor cleaning kits are a must
Cleaning your sensor can be a delicate procedure. Those things are very… sensitive, and you want to be well-equipped for the task.